Bolgatanga is the largest town in the Upper East region of Ghana, about 20 miles South of the Burkina Faso border and very close to the edge of the Sahara Desert. The sun roasts the villages of northern Ghana year round, except during the 2-3 months of rainy season when it rains, rains, rains. The people living there are traditionally farmers and herdsman, but with its variable climate farming is very difficult. Local women supplement the family income by weaving the baskets we refer to as Bolga baskets which are hand-woven using locally-grown straw.
Basket weaving has helped bring much needed income to the villages surrounding Bolgatanga. The traditional skill which has been handed down from generation to generation provides employment to approximately 10,000 people, mostly women. An average of two baskets a week can be woven by a woman who also has household chores, firewood collection, water collection, washing and the care of her children to tend to each day.
African Market Baskets™ founder and CEO, Steve Karowe has been importing from Africa for 35 years. For the past 18 years he has worked directly with artisans in Bolgatanga and helps support over 5,000 weavers and their families.